Grieving: Expressing in Words What We’ve Lost

When we have suffered a loss and as we move through the grieving that follows, we often express in words what we’ve lost.

Twitter Post by Karen Putz

Twitter Post by Karen Putz

I was reminded that sometimes how we describe our loss surprises others when I saw this Twitter post by Karen Putz (@deafmom) earlier this week.  Karen’s dad has esophageal cancer, and hasn’t really been able to eat normally for the last couple of months.  So in retrospect, his response to the doctor is right on, but it probably surprised everyone when he said it.

As we’re grieving a loss, we tend to express that loss in ways that are highly personal to us — in ways that truly describe what we miss dearly, and would like to have back.  It’s part of the longing for phase of grief.  Karen’s dad longs to be able to eat his wife’s cooking again — both because it’s good, and because that would mean that he’s dealt successfully with his cancer.

One of my favorite questions while visiting patients in the hospital has become, “What one thing are you praying for today?”

I ask that question for lots of reasons.  It helps me target my prayer with the person to pray specifically for what they want most that day.  There’s often a powerful connection between us as we join together in prayer with the words, “God, my prayer is _____ ‘s prayer.”  And it often provides an opportunity to talk about the real issue the person is struggling with that day.

Karen’s post reminded me of a recent visit.  When I first entered the room, most of my conversation was with the patient’s husband.  The patient was having some pain, and just wasn’t engaging.  But when I asked her if she’d like to pray, and specifically what her biggest request was, she jumped in and took over the conversation.  Her request was simple:  “I want to be able to go back home and take care of my 101-year old mother, and help my sister get there so she can help.”  It represented both what she had lost, and what was important to her.  As we prayed together, she verbally reinforced my words with her “Amen’s” and “Yes, Lord’s.”

It was a special moment for all of us.  Her greatest desire had been heard and then expressed in prayer.

Karen’s post is one reason I’m active on Twitter — I’m always learning, and often being reminded of what’s important.  Asking good questions like Karen’s dad’s doctor did is important.

Thanks for the Twitter post, Karen.  And I am praying that your dad gets to eat your mom’s good cooking soon!

  1. Karen Putz says:

    Jim, thank you for this beautiful post.
    .-= Karen Putz´s last blog ..The Z Team in Vegas–What a Week! =-.

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